Saturday, April 22, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 11

My husband and I are preparing for an epic travel adventure, so this particular writing prompt struck a cord with me.

If you could make a good living doing the one thing you love most in the world, what would it be?

Mazatlan
Because I love to travel and often photograph and write about my experiences, I would absolutely love to be a travel blogger. I know a number of people who do actually make a living doing exactly that. How great would it be to have someone else pay for your travel expenses in return for providing photos and reviews of the places you have been?

I already am a top reviewer for TripAdvisor as I use that site extensively whenever I am planning a trip, whether in my own town or abroad. So I have always felt it was important for me to contribute reviews as well to help other travelers. But I don't get paid for that, of course, and that is what makes the site so valuable. The reviews are honest opinions from people who visited, stayed or ate at the places listed on the site.

But if an opportunity came along for me to have my expenses paid in exchange for blogging about where I've been and what I did there, I would jump at the chance!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 10

Tomorrow is Easter Sunday, and I will be hosting 13 or 14 of my extended family members for dinner. It seem apropos, then, to use a writing prompt that deals with holiday traditions.

Which of your holiday traditions have you carried on into adulthood? What new traditions have you started?

When I was a child, Easter was a big deal. It was almost as if Santa was visiting for a second time, coming dressed in a white, fluffy suit with big ears and a pom pom tail. My mom and dad had a good time with Easter, carefully filling our baskets with all our favorite candies and green, plastic grass. Then they would hide the baskets, and my brother and I would feverishly dash through the house trying to determine where that wily rabbit had hidden our goodies.

Easter ~1958
The bunny always left a brown, wooden bowl filled with dyed eggs and candy on the kitchen table for the "adults" in the house. There was quite an age difference between my older brother and sister and us younger two siblings, so perhaps that was the bunny's way of making sure the older two didn't feel left out. Or maybe mom and dad just wanted to make sure they got some candy, too.

After breakfast we would don our Sunday best and head off to Mass. The photo above is of our family before Easter Mass in Chicago, circa 1958. I'm in the front with my brother Joe on my right. In the back row is my sister Kathy, my mom, and my brother Ken. Dad was usually the one taking the pictures, so he isn't in this shot. I'm the only one who looks happy. Maybe my Easter basket was the biggest that year!

When my husband and I started our family we continued on with the Easter basket tradition, hiding the baskets from the kids just as my parents had done. And there was a bowl of candy on the table for the adults. But we added a new tradition by hiding dyed eggs outside. One of us would slyly sneak out with the eggs while the other got the children ready for Mass. When we got home from church, we would send them out to look in the yard. They loved it! But one year there were hardly any eggs left in the yard. We could not figure out where they had all gone. But just as we were scratching our heads over it, a big black crow swooped down from the sky, grabbed a colored egg, and took off. Those devils!

The next year I purchased a couple bags of colored plastic eggs, and we filled those with candy and hid them outside. Problem solved, and I think the kids enjoyed the candy-filled eggs way more than they ever did the hard-boiled, dyed eggs.

The picture below is Easter 1993. The kids found their baskets, we dressed up for Mass, and then they went on their egg hunt when we got home. And once again the dad was taking the picture, so he isn't in it. Though the days of Easter egg hunts are long gone, it's so nice to be reminded of the fun times we had when the kids were young.

Easter 1993

Friday, April 7, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 9

This week the challenge question involves leaving home for the first time.

When you first left your parents’ home, was it to attend college, pursue a job, or embark on military or humanitarian service? What was it like to be out on your own for the first time?

My first time leaving home was to attend college. I had never been away from my family before other than a few overnight stays with friends, a couple of weekend girl scout camps and a class trip in high school to Washington, DC. On any other longer trips I was always with at least one of my family members. As the baby of the family, I was very close to my parents and siblings, but college held a world of new opportunities in my eyes. Though I did not get to attend the college of my choice (my dad's decision, and the topic of a future post), I was happy that a number of my fellow Hoover Husky high school classmates would also be going to Iowa State.

A good friend and I applied to be roommates, but the lottery used back then did not allow that to happen. She was at one end of the campus, and I at another. She and I packed up my car with our belonging the summer before freshman year and headed to campus together. Neither one of us knew our respective roommates. The picture below shows me with some of my fellow dormies. I am in the center of the front row, and my freshman roommate is right behind me.

Iowa State 1974 
It was difficult for me at first, and I made many weekend trips home that first quarter to see my parents. I missed them terribly, despite the fact that my older brother was currently a junior at the same university. Eventually I began to make new friends, and saw some of my old high school acquaintances around campus. One of them invited me to attend a rush party for Little Sisters that was taking place at his fraternity. Being selected to be part of this Little Sisters group at Alpha Sigma Phi was a turning point for me at Iowa State. I found a whole new set of friends, both male and female, and an entirely different way to become involved with the university.

The first three years of college I lived in a dormitory, but senior year I moved off campus into a mobile home with one of the other Little Sisters. That was a great experience in preparing me for independent living, with rent and utility bills to pay as well as groceries to purchase and cook. No more meal plan in the dorm!

Renting the mobile home and sharing a small space with another adult also prepared me to become a wife, I believe. And as one of the fraternity brothers married this Little Sister thirty-eight years ago, I'd say being out on my own for the first time worked out pretty well!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 8

My husband and I met with an attorney this week to create a new will since our last one was done in 1987. While that document is certainly sufficient in most respects, I doubt that anyone would be able to easily find the executor. He was a trusted friend of ours at the time, but moved to Texas a couple decades ago. I have no idea where he is at now, or if he's even alive as we lost touch a long time ago. Since death is on my mind, it seems appropriate for this week's story to relate to it on some level.

Do you know where you’d like to be laid to rest one day? Will you be buried near relatives and ancestors, or in the place you lived most of your life (if the two are different)?

gravestone
Being laid to rest - isn't that an interesting turn of phrase? Since you are dead, you aren't really resting. At any rate, my husband and I have talked extensively about this. My parents are buried in a cemetery 350 miles away from where we live. His parents have their funerals planned and their cemetery plots paid for up in Minnesota. We never considered being buried in either of those locations. To me the point of having a gravestone is for those you leave behind, to visit, grieve and pay their respects. I think it made a lot of sense when families lived and died in the communities in which they had been born. Our children live far away, and we don't even know where we will end up living following retirement, so it makes no sense to pre-pay funeral or burial expenses in our city.

The other consideration for us is that we have worked in the "green" industry for over 20 years, so we are very sensitive to sustainability. Cemeteries are not necessarily the best use of land, though the owners are paying more attention to environmental issues these days. Cremation and green burials come to mind, and certainly cremation is the route we will both choose to go. We just haven't come to any decision about what will be done with our cremains. Maybe keeping them in an urn makes the most sense because then they will be portable. For now, it is enough to know that we both wish to be cremated.

While the environmentalist in me knows that cremation without a burial plot is the right thing to do, the genealogist in me cringes a bit. Burial records and tombstones are sometimes the only proof you can find that an ancestor lived and died. What is the replacement when someone is cremated? Will the funeral homes share these records as they often share burial records? It is something that gives me pause, for sure. It won't prevent me from being cremated, but my inner genealogist will shed a little tear.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 7

This week's question again involves education.
Describe your family legacy regarding education. Do you come from a long line of scholars? Were you the first to earn a degree? Are your forging a new legacy with your own children?

The first question made me chuckle. I definitely do not come from a long line of scholars. My mom dropped out of high school following her junior year to go to work to help support her family, which consisted of her mom and dad as well as seven siblings. She sewed basketballs for a sporting goods company. My father took several college classes somewhere along the line (I believe after his service in WWII), but he was far from ever completing a college degree.

My older sister never went to college, and my oldest brother attended for a couple of years before entering the Navy during the Vietnam War. The brother closest in age to me did attend a university, getting a bachelor's degree and earning credits for most of a master's degree. I followed him to the same university, and completed my bachelor's degree in four years.

college graduation
My husband and I met in college, and married shortly after graduation. Finding no jobs in my field and tiring of working in a bank, I went back for my master's degree. I achieved it in one year by going to school full-time, 12 months straight, and graduated magna cum laude. I was the first in my family to obtain a master's degree, and my husband later got an MBA.

Both of our children have four year degrees, and our daughter-in-law has a master's degree as well. Our daughter is studying for the GMAT right now as she is interested in getting an MBA. So perhaps we have forged a new legacy with the next generation.